Several months ago, I volunteered to be a co-director of The Vagina Monologues. It has been a lot of hard work, but after the show finally took place this weekend, I can honestly say it was an amazing experience and that I hope to do it again.
I first became aware of The Vagina Monologues and V-Day in college when I attended a performance on campus. I fell in love with the mission of the organization, and how uplifting and empowering the show is. It is not just a show about vaginas, it is about hope and change. It makes you laugh and cry, and motivates you to want to help make the world better. The following year, despite never having acted in my whole life, I decided to audition. Being a part of the show was an amazing and life altering experience, and daring to get on stage gave me a greater sense of confidence. I was involved with the show twice more before leaving college, and then auditioned locally two years ago and performed. I had always thought it would be wonderful to direct and be even more involved, so this time around I finally took that leap.
Our mission was to turn the show into more of a community event this time around. We asked local organizations who help victims of rape domestic violence and who educate others to be there. We also invited the local women’s center, and a group that assists women immigrating to this country from Africa. We made t-shirts and cookies to sell, had a local cloth pad vendor, and even had a table for men to talk about supporting women. We also created a photo-booth for people to have fun hamming it up in front of the camera with their friends. We decorated the theater, and played upbeat music while people mingled and shopped. We tried to make everyone in attendance feel welcomed and supported, and excited to be a part of our event.
In this particular theater, the highest number previously in attendance at any show numbered in the 60’s. So, we thought we were being ambitious when we put out 70 chairs. Well, on the first night the hall filled rapidly, and we scrambled to set up more rows. There were almost 100 people. On the second night, we had to bring out even more than that, and the crowd numbered about 110 and filled the room all the way to the back. In just the first night alone, we raised more money than previous years of multiple performances combined. All of the proceeds are going straight to local groups that help victims of violence.
I spent a lot of nights away from home or busy over the last few months–at rehearsals, frantically typing emails, printing scripts, meeting with my co-director, or making things…all for the show. Directing is so much more involved than I ever expected, but also extremely rewarding. When I saw how proud the women in my cast were to see the theater filling up, and hearing positive feedback from the audience, I was proud of them too. When I saw how the community all came out to support this great cause, I felt connected and filled with hope. I came home Saturday night, after the final night of performance, and I was in awe.
My heart is still spilling over with gratitude and pride over what we accomplished. We made a difference in our community, inspired one another, and touched people. I hope I can be a part of this again next year. Until then, I am still smiling about what a great experience it was.